Yesterday, I delivered the mail in a snowstorm. It was snowing heavily when I started out and it didn’t stop falling until mid afternoon. Those odd shaped postal trucks are terrible in the snow. They are rear wheel drive and they get stuck in even just a few inches of snow. I tried to dodge the plows and yet remain on the main road enough to avoid the snow buildup nearer the curbs. I was fishtailing from relay to relay. When I approached the hill, I parked on the wrong side of the street to allow for other cars to pass, and then I had to race back to move the truck when the snowplow came barreling down the incline. I couldn’t drive where the streets were not plowed, so I walked. And most sidewalks and steps were not cleared until the storm subsided. It was a difficult day. But I’ve had worse ones. One Winter I fell into a snowbank that was so deep I could not pull myself out. Somehow I was able to shimmy and wriggle near enough to the truck’s bumper to grab onto that and pull myself upright.
“Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet…” they send us out to deliver the mail. In thirty years, I think delivery was cancelled maybe 3 times. Even in hurricanes, the bosses are slow to make a decision. It is not an easy job. Facing the elements is only one part. Then, there’s the issue of dealing with the public’s complaints, the daily criticisms from management, and poor and faulty equipment. The days of the Merry Mailman are long over. Now, the new people getting hired are forced to work 7 days per week, very long days, and sometimes 21 of them at a stretch!
Have you noticed the letter carrier working in the dark with a headlamp? There is no limit to how long the day will be. And then there’s global warming that showcases the most bizarre weather ever. Last Summer was the hottest one ever recorded. Those odd shaped postal vehicles do not have air conditioning. There is a tiny fan on the dashboard, that merely stirs the hot air. A thermometer in my truck recorded 105 degrees with the windows barely cracked, which is required for security reasons.
I often think the USPS should put job flyers up at sporting goods shops. One doesn’t need to cross the globe, purchase expensive equipment, train for months, and hire a guide to challenge the elements and climb a mountain to prove one’s moxy. Instead simply sign up to become a letter carrier- where the challenges never quit. The job could easily be labelled an extreme sport.